Legal view: The risks of overstaying your visa in UAE
Employer can be fined Dh50,000 if employee overstays after visa is cancelled.
I was employed by a shipping company based in the emirate of Fujairah for the past five years. Owing to financial problems faced by the employer, I resigned from my employment. After the completion of my one-month notice period, my employer called me to sign the cancellation document to cancel my UAE residence visa. However, when I enquired about the settlement of my end of service benefits, I was told that it would be done within two to three days. On the basis of this assurance, I signed the residence visa cancellation document. However, I am yet to receive my final settlement and 22 days have elapsed since I signed the document for the cancellation of my visa. Further, the employer has stated that I still have eight days to exit the UAE. However, if I stay beyond the said eight days, the employer will bear the penalties payable for my overstay. Should I continue staying within the UAE until I receive my final settlement from my employer?
Pursuant to your query, an employee whose residence visa has been revoked must exit the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 19 of the Federal Law No. (6) for 1973 concerning Immigration and Residence as amended by virtue of Law No. (7) of 1985, Law No. (13) of 1996 and Federal Decree Law No. (17) of 2017 (the 'Federal Residency Law'), which states:
"Article 19:Foreigners who have obtained residence licence shall be subject to the provisions of Article (11) herein. They must leave the country upon the revocation of their residence permit or the expiration of its term."
In continuance, if an employee is found overstaying in the UAE despite the termination of his employment contract and the cancellation of his residence visa, the employer may be penalised if the employer fails to lodge a complaint against the employee. This is in accordance with Article 34 (1) of the Federal Residency Law, which states:
"Article 34:(1) A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on anyone who has used or accommodated a foreigner in violation of the provisions of this law. The penalty shall be imprisonment and a fine of Dh50,000 in case of return to the same act."
Further, it may be noted that upon the cancellation of a residence visa, the UAE residence visa-holder may continue to stay in the UAE for a maximum period of 30 days as a grace period from the day of the cancellation of the residence visa. Staying beyond the grace period shall attract a penalty for the UAE residence visa-holder. However, in cases where the UAE residence visa-holder is party to a case within the purview of a court in the UAE, the UAE residence visa-holder may continue to stay in the country pursuant to the approval of the court till the case is finally disposed and no further appeals lie on the said matter.
In the instant case, considering you have not filed a complaint against your employer and we assume you are not currently a party to a case within the purview of a court in the UAE, should you choose to stay in the UAE beyond the 30-day grace period based on your employer's assurance, it may be pertinent to note that such an overstay shall be in violation of the provisions of the Federal Residency Law and it may be deemed to be illegal.
In the event of you not receiving your final settlement from your employer, you may file a complaint against your employer within one year from the date of occurrence of your claim in accordance with Article 6 of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law'). You may approach the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (Mohre) and file a complaint against your employer for the non-payment of final settlement due to you and further you may consult a legal practitioner.
Know the law
A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on anyone who has used or accommodated a foreigner in violation of the provisions of this law
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.